We often think of building sites as being inhabited by the typical chauvinistic kind of man, the type of man who might wolf whistle at a woman walking by, or engage in disrespectful worksite banter. Because of this culture, it can be easy to project an image of what it will be like as a woman walking onto a site full of men and yet it is incredible how much this culture can change, when as women we are willing to bring our quality to typically male dominated work environments without compromising it.
A meeting this week with the site manager on a building site in Barnes was a completely new experience for me. We needed to look at the electrical drawings I had done and to do so we needed some light and a space to put the plans down so that the electrical, site manager and myself could all easily see the drawings. The area where the guys on site had their tea breaks had a table so we walked over their and instantly the site manager cleared everything off the table and found me some clean plastic sheets which he carefully laid down on the table so that we had a clear space to work.
Then on a project in Chelsea I was welcomed by the men working outside with so much respect and care as they helped me navigate my way through the building site. I had heavy art work to bring onto site and one of the young guys helped me carry it to where it needed to go. And another tradesman watched my car to ensure I didn’t get a ticket from a parking warden.
I have noticed that when I honour myself as a woman and work with the builders on site and not in competition with them or from a place of defending myself as a woman, then the welcome I get back is a direct reflection of the way I am meeting them. There is such an ease working in this way and what is needed gets addressed without complication.